4-5 The vanishing north

There are benefits in the melting of the Arctic, but the risks are much greater

My interest:
I am worrying that we forget the global warming phenomenon after the earthquake. Of course I know several researchers claims there are no such links between CO2 and global warming and there are skeptics among ordinary people, but I think these claims are minor argument. First, global warming affects marginal places such as the Arctic, so we don’t actually feel the changes of the climate. Second, it is important to control green house emissions as we do about sewage and garbage considering limited space of the earth. The international society admitted the effect and reached an agreement to decrease carbon emissions in near future. We should stick to this issue.

Why do you think this melting is opportunity or risk?
Are their other risks we should be in mind?
What kind of effects does this issue have on Japan? How far?

1. The ice has shrunk far below the long-term average. (-12% each decade since 1970s / the summer minimum was 4.33m square km – almost 1/2 for 1960s)
2. The arctic is warming roughly twice as fast as the rest of the planet. (mainly by the albedo effect - darker colored land or water has a positive feedback on warming)

The retreating ice offers access to precious minerals and new sea-lanes (Northern Sea Route/ North-west passage). The great melt is going to make a lot of people rich by making large area suitable for agriculture and producing new oil industry in the area.

1. The culture of the Inuit / Arctic peoples claims “right to be cold”.
2. Politics between the Arctic countries / Conflicts of minerals and sea-lane interests emerge.
3. Pollution / A big oil spill will cause devastated pollution among the area
4. Climate change (disrupt oceanic circulation / thaw permafrost / raise sea levels) / Unique ecosystem and perhaps many species will be lost.

 The Economist’s point of view
Economic benefits are huge and cultural, political and environmental risks are often exaggerated. However, as scientific researches suggest that climate change becomes excess in the Arctic because of positive feedback, the risk of the loss of the ecosystem is huge still. 

Other discussions:


4-4 Start the engines, Angela

Leaders: Facebook and children
With appropriate safeguards, children should be allowed to use social networks

Why I picked up the article:
I was impressed to read the idea of social networks for children. Children learn to make communication between friends and others. When I was in elementary school, friends like to play with “exchange diary”, “photo sharing” and “card games”. Children are socializing with others by playing. Facebook might be a good tool for them to play with friends.

Discussion topics:
Do you agree or disagree with allowing children to use facebook?
Why does facebook not allow children under13 to use their services?

Facebook is open to all ages but the under 13s.
The company is toying with the idea to let children in with safeguards.
Some people argue that to join social network too early is bad for children but this is unfair, the article says. It says that there is no compelling reason why children should not socialize with each other online.
What is worrying that those on Facebook today are treated as if they were adults.
Children’s first experience to day often involves deceit.
Facebook has a powerful incentive to clean up its system. The following safeguards would be a good start:
1)      Facebook should ensure that privacy settings for preteens are automatically set at maximum strength.
2)      The company should create simple controls that allow parents to monitor friends and apps of their children.
3)      It should seek approval from both children and their children before making any changes to these setting.
Facebook already has millions vulnerable, clandestine underage users. It is time to bring them into the light.

Other discussions we had this week:


4-3 Morals and the machine

Business: Natural gas
The “golden age of gas” could be cleaner than greens think

Why I picked up the article
What is “shale gas”? We frequently hear the word and its potential but we don’t know so much about it.   

1.What is “conventional” and “unconventional” gas?
2.What is “fracking”(hydraulic fracturing)?
3.How to “regasify” and “liqiuify”
4.Why does the America’s gas boom happen? Do you think it will continue for decades?


4-2 How strong is China's economy

The latest crop of bosses will have short and troubled tenures

Why I picked up this article:
Our CEO has changed in April to Nobuyuki Hirano, who has long experiences in Brussels and New York. Although our company made the largest profit among Japanese companies in fiscal 2011, what he confront are like storms as the article mentions. I would like to know what our new CEO thinks for this time as a head of a global public company.


What is to be expected from new bosses (or your boss)?
What do you think the current situation of CEOS? 
Do you want to become CEO?


1.        Last year 350 of 2,500 biggest companies appointed a new head honcho(班長).
The percentage of new CEOS: 14.2% in 2011 <= 11.6% in 2010
Outsiders: 22% of the class of 2011 <= 14% in 2007

These appointments intend to cope with the growing world economy (which means spring in the air) and A sharp reversal of a decade-long trend towards recruiting insiders to make convergence of different industries. But The omens (sign) do not look good. The euro crisis, America’s shaky recovery and the BRICS slowdown threat the growth of the economy. And as the research suggests, insiders do much better because they have a feel for how the firm actually works.

2.        CEOS faces difficult circumstances.
 New CEOS with chairmanship: 14% <= 45% in a decade earlier
Outgoing CEOS to become chairman: 37% in North America, 63% in Japan
The professional life expectancy of CEOS: 6.4 years <= 8.1 in a decade ago

The new bosses will receive intense scrutiny (inspection) by the board and former boss. The new CEOs will also have less room for mistakes than their predecessors. Boards are showing more apatite for risks and less tolerate of failure.

3.        What can CEOS do to succeed?
 Rearrange their senior teams quickly and remove troublemakers.
Take a while to make strategic decisions.

4.        How to cope with isolation and pressure.
Listen to the right people = “sparring partner”(CFO and HRD)
Have a supportive family

Other discussions:

1. Do you think China's economy will grow steadily?
2. What kind of opportunities and risks does your company or ministry have in China?
(from Iino)

[British] [Electricity market reform] 
1.Do you think british new policy would succeed? 
(Consider energy price in deregulated market, details of the bills and awareness of the people)
(from Shimada)

[International] [The NATO summit] 
1. How to establish security in Afghan after NATO's retreat? What will be big problems?
2. Should NATO-led armies stay in Afghan longer than it is planned
3. What is Japan asked to do and can do for the security in the region?
(from Yamagata)

[Business] [Cars in Indonesia] 
1. What types of policies should Indonesian government take?
(from Kishimoto)

This week we have two new comers. One was invited by one of our members and the other found our group by searching google. We gathered at Starbucks cafe in Kanda. It was new for our group to use the cafe. There was one large desk that is suitable for our discussion but it was used by others and difficult to get seats and background music was a little bit loud and the space was noisy so it is better to use saint-marc cafe because it is always unpopular. We discussed 5 topics by 10 people. We had various topics from business, china's economy, electricity market in Britain to world security related to Afghan and cars in Indonesia. How to make a comment on each topics is difficult and challenging but it will train your communication skill.